It was a historic night for the Slingers, and possibly also the ABL. Every single player on the team played and managed to score, as the Slingers cruised to a 102-61 victory over a passionless Barracudas squad. Today, it was as if the Slingers took this writer’s earlier critique about the lack of locals’ effort and proved it wrong. Everyone, right till the very last player, played, contributed and scored in the game. (And we are so proud to announce it!)
History was made when seldom used reserve guard #1 Tan Chin Hong stole the ball, raced down the floor and scored a fastbreak layup with 21 seconds left in the game, allowing the Slingers to break the 100 point mark. He also became the final Slinger to score, allowing each of them to score at least 2 points in the game.
“We mean business”, said co-captain Steven Khoo, refering to how this win was a statement of the Slingers’ prowess to the league, as the playoff approaches. The Yakuza himself collected 8 points, in only 13 minutes of play.
Right from the first quarter, the statement was made when the Slingers established their lockdown defense on the Barracudas. How good was the Slingers’ defense? The Barracudas were without a field goal for the entire quarter, scoring a ABL season low 2 points from Chris Garnett’s free-throws. With the Slingers leading 27-2, the game was as good as over by the end of the first.
The Barracudas’ woes continued into the second period as Al Vergara, Leo Avenido and Marcus Skinner took their turns to do the damage on the offense end, while Kyle Jeffers continued his defensive stops on the Barracudas’ big men. There was no stopping the Slingers, as the Slingers built an insurmountable lead of 44-9, until the Barracudas went on a 5-0 run to stop the bleeding. However, Al Vergara, who regained his form, scored 2 more three pointers, putting the Slingers up 52-20 at the half.
The third quarter was no different as the Barracudas were outscored once again 12-28, ending the quarter 75-32. Leo Avenido and Al Vergara needed only 3 quarters to score 23 and 15 points respectively, as they were taken out of the game mid-way into the third. The Slingers then brought their locals in to play.
For the first time in Slingers’ ABL history, the Slingers could field their 12th man team, even allowing local players like Desmond Oh, Steven Khoo and Pathman Matialakan to rest in the fourth quarter. Lim Sheng Yu, Ng Han Bin, Tan Chin Hong, Wong Wei Long and Teo Chun Hoe came in with 3 minutes left in the game. Although allowing the opposing team to score points, the locals held their ground. Even reserve and rookie centre, Teo Chun Hoe managed to score his first points of the season through a nifty post move against Bryan Faundo.
Despite the huge margin of victory, the game was finished in style, as the stadium crowd stood on their feet, to cheer the Slingers through the dying seconds of the game. The crowd was treated to an exciting finish as rookie forward Lim Sheng Yu capped off the game with an amazing steal, poking away the inbound and finishing strong at the rim. It was a move that reminded fans of the Flyboy, Hong Wei Jian, who is anticipating a return. The ex-Hwa Chong Institution player finished the game with 4 points and 2 steals.
Although the Slingers played well, Kyle Jeffers, who only had to score 10 points, explained that the Barracudas were a “different team” this time round, unlike the team who gave the Slingers a challenge on the previous meeting, when the Slingers had to work for a 74-70 win. Perhaps, it was due to the fact that the Barracudas had already been eliminated from the playoffs, while the Slingers needed a win to secure a playoff spot, that resulted in such a huge marginal point difference.
Overall, the Slingers defense limited the Barracudas to a dismal 1/12 from beyond the arc and 26/80 from the field. On the offensive end, the Slingers’ locals combined for 35 points in a well-balanced scoring effort.
Despite moving ahead of Satria Muda by a full game with this well-deserved win, the Slingers have yet to secure a playoff spot. In their next game, should the Patriots fall to Satria Muda, the Slingers are faced with a must-win game against the league-leading Chang Thailand Slammers, which would also be their first-round opponent should they qualify for the playoffs.
Hopefully they can ride on their form to win the next away game, which would certainly be a tough one.
– Photo by Francis Espeleta, Slingers’ official photographer –